Resident writing letter ‘Sonrisas frente al coronavirus’. Iberdrola Volunteers

The solidarity projects taken on by companies during the pandemic have helped with issues such as social isolation, psychological care and to manufacture much needed medical equipment

 

During the current health crisis we have seen how companies have adapted their production lines and worked to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis on society. From transforming their production to supply masks, disinfectant gels and other essential products to the health system, to contributing to humanitarian projects such as the Red Cross and other NGOs.

But, in addition to their production and economic support, the companies have mobilised what is surely their greatest asset: people. Many companies, especially the larger companies, have mobilised their corporate volunteers -employees who participate in the altruistic activities promoted by the company within its Corporate Social Responsibility policies- so that they continue to contribute their talent and energy to those who need it most. Initiatives that are needed now more than ever.

They have done so by providing their help amidst the necessary measures of social confinement  in order to contain the pandemic. The Internet has been key both to the organisation of volunteers and offering help to different groups.

 

Combating isolation has become a priority

 

Isolation, especially for those who are highly vulnerable to the disease – such as the elderly – has been one of the most visible consequences of the crisis. Society’s rapid response – with initiatives such as that of Dr. Cristina Marín, from Madrid, who proposed sending emails and letters to elderly patients admitted to ICUs – also translated into corporate volunteer initiatives set up by many companies.

This was done by CaixaBank, Iberdrola, Fundación Telefónica, Prosegur, Enagás and Pernod Ricard Winemakers, among others, which, as part of the Voluntare network – which encompasses the corporate volunteer initiatives of large companies – mobilised its more than 1,000 volunteers in the Sonrisas frente al coronavirus project, dedicated to generating virtual links with older people. The volunteers wrote an initial letter, by hand which they scanned and sent to the homes participating in the initiative, where they printed and handed out to the elderly, they also helped to write a response.

Combating isolation and offering emotional support has also been the aim of the Estamos en contacto initiative. Under the coordination and professional advice of the Adecco Foundation, the Orange tele-operator has mobilised its volunteers to assist around 200 people with mental and/or intellectual disabilities. The company’s volunteers have acted as telephone tutors, providing support in areas such as mood, physical care and hygiene habits to avoid contagion. This project has also been joined by Santa Lucía, Alstom, CESCE, Iberdrola, Capgemini, GSK, Bankinter, Cisco, Grupo Adecco and Ferrovial-Cadagua.

This project is very similar to #MayoresAcompaña2, of the Vodafone Foundation, whose volunteers have been accompanying those suffering from loneliness by telephone; and to that of the Telefónica Foundation, which under the slogan #SumaFuerzas, made available to the Red Cross RESPONDE Plan its 13,000 volunteers, so that they could offer virtual attention to those in vulnerable situations.

Companies such as IBM and Cisco technologies made both their resources and volunteers available to public administrations. Offering advice on access to and management of virtual teaching tools to thousands of teachers who were facing the challenge of adapting their classes to the digital environment for the first time.

 

Volunteer networks manufacturing medical equipment

 

Some of the “Renault al Rescate” volunteers, organized to manufacture medical equipment with 3D printers

 

Corporate volunteering groups, especially during the first weeks of the pandemic, also helped out with the lack of health care supplies.

Similar to the Coronavirus Makers network – made up of some 15,000 3D printing enthusiasts organized by Telegram to mass produce acetate visors and masks – a hundred Renault volunteers began to make health equipment. They did this with machines and printers loaned to them by the automobile company, and with their own printers. The BQ technology engineers also helped out with medical equipment, with the capacity to manufacture some 1,000 visors per day thanks to the 50 3D printers on loan from Endesa. Iberdrola, has also organised and supported an internal network of volunteers to manufacture protective masks with its 3D printers.

There have also been thousands of people – mostly women – who organised groups via internet to produce and deliver solidarity masks to hospital and medical centre staff, members of the armed forces and security forces, transporters and supermarket staff. In addition to the citizen initiatives that have emerged thanks to social media platforms such as WhatsApp, employees of companies such as Pronovias, a textile company, with materials that have been supplied by SEAT, have organised and continued to work voluntarily in the production of thousands of certified masks.

 

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